“Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you've read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.”
A Tag from Dew(ed). She didn't actually tag me. She didn't actually tag anyone. I gave myself an invitation.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle- It was the first book I read cover to cover in a day and may, then, be directly responsible for my love of reading. I think I was in Fourth grade. My daughter has not finished it, she says she likes it but I think she's just aware of how much I liked it and doesn't want to "let me down." Maybe I'll steal it from her and re-read it and rediscover whatever it is that turned me into a reader.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald- When I read it in high school, I was in love with every word on every page. Now, it's nothing short of disappointing. Why do I include it if I don't like it? Books have infinite power, including reminding us how much we've changed. While the book gets me nostalgic for simpler times, I can also see an evolution of my preferences in writing.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee- Didn't like it in high school, don't know how anyone could not love it now. Maybe it took becoming a parent but the portraits painted of the characters in Ms. Lee's lone published novel encapusulate every trait we should strive to possess and all we should fight against. If I were to ever have another daughter, I would lobby heavily for the name "Nell."
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller- I've read it three times and liked it more each time. So laugh out loud funny and so sad at the same time. Hello, triumphant human spirit.
Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote- The most beautiful writing. Ever.
Devil in the White City by Erik Larson- The book that showed me that non-fiction doesn't have to be boring. Quite the contrary, it can be chilling and magnificent.
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card- Orson Scott Card's foresight serves as a perfect backdrop for an amazing story that takes the good v. evil theme to depths most stories only touch on the surface.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley- The ultimate functionalist society. Chilling.
The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand- While I see holes in her philosophy that the 19 year old Melissa never did, these are two of the most important works of fiction ever written and every reader should read them, love her or hate her. Even if I don't embrace everything it means, Howard Roark will always be perfect to me.
The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck- It's hard to pick a favorite Steinbeck but this must be it. Ethan holds tight to values that will never get his family all that glitters. A very honest book.
And speaking of honesty,
Sonny's Blues by James Baldwin- A short story, maybe novella, actually. I dare you to read it and not want to finish it on the spot.
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky- It took me a looong time to "get into" this book but I was so glad I did. Perhaps it's because I never tire of the good v. evil story and this had so many layers to it. Politics, society, self. It still makes me think.
Roll your eyes it you want to,
Harry Potter the entire series by J.K. Rowling- Unlike Ender, we got to see Harry experience some actual childhood, perhaps making it all the more bitter to see his youth compromised. The books are incredible and my only disappointment is how tidily everything was packaged up at the end. As an aside, the movies are likely the least disappointing reproductions of books ever. New movie in one week!!! Excuse me while I go touch myself.
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett- Actually a play but I've read my copy several times and struggle in public not to do so out loud. The dialog is musical. Never has a story of utter uselessness felt so good. If you like Samuel Beckett, YouTube "Play" with Alan Rickman. The whole thing is on there and I often forget to breathe when I'm watching it.
Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger- My favorite Salinger, even more so than Catcher in the Rye. Great commentary on religion and, oh, how I fell in love with Zooey.